An introduction to Project Steering Groups

A Project Steering Group acts as an oversight committee for a project. You might also use the terms Governance Committee or Project Board to describe a similar group. Each project should have one. However, the composition of the group will depend on the project. It is generally agreed that strong leadership is essential for project success. Therefore, it is a good idea to get your Project Steering Group established as soon as possible.
This is a guide to project steering groups, which are part of the governance framework. You can set them up and get started on your project.

The Project Steering Group Members
Governance Framework
Format of Project Steering Group Meetings
Content of Project Steering Group Meetings

The Project Steering Group Members
The Project Steering Group’s objective is to provide oversight and governance for the project. They make the tough decisions. They will let you know if you can go overboard or which risk mitigation actions are appropriate for this stage of the project.
If you are unable to solve a problem on your own, you can ask the Steering Group for help. They will be able resolve it for you. That’s at least the theory! They will need your support, guidance, and information to make the right decision about next steps.
This is why the Steering Group should have a relatively high ranking group of people with the authority to make decisions, allocate resources, and make decisions. The chairperson should be your project sponsor. You should then be the project manager on the Steering Group.
You should also include anyone who has a significant interest in the project’s management and the decisions made. Examples of such people would be:
A vendor account manager
The key customer or their representative, especially when it is a senior manager from an internal department
If the project has significant impacts in these areas, a member of the finance or legal team
If the project will change the way that the Operations area of the company is run, such as through the introduction or modification of a frontline process, then someone like an Operations Director.

You should have people in your group who are familiar with the project or can bring it up to speed, and who have influence over the outcome.
Governance Framework
Your project governance framework should include a group. They can meet as many times as they like. A monthly meeting is a good idea if you don’t know where else to start. For some projects, it is necessary for the group to meet fortnightly. For others, a quarterly meeting might be more than sufficient.
Next: What types of project meetings should you be having?
Once the project is underway, you can change the frequency of meetings and you will know how much governance will be required.
Flexible governance frameworks are possible. In the beginning, you might need fortnightly meetings. Once everything is in order and everyone feels confident that the company is running smoothly, you can drop monthly meetings. As you get closer to delivery, start monthly meetings.
Meetings can also be timed around important milestones for governance purposes. To make sure that the Project Steering Group makes the right decision, it is a good idea to hold the meeting one week before you need approval for sending out training material or similar materials.
Format of Project Steering Group Meetings
The best format for your meetings is up to you. Face-to-face meetings are the best, as with all types, but it is not always possible. It might be a good idea to set up a conference call line so that those who are not present can still join the meeting via phone.
You might also want to meet completely via virtual means – if it fits your company’s culture, then go for it. It is cheaper and more convenient than trying to do it in person.

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